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Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Getting Fixed Up In San Blas
Bruce
12/15/2008, San Blas

It's so weird preparing for Christmas in Mexico with 80 and 90 degree temperatures! Yesterday we bought a 3' Christmas tree for the boat, and decorations, so we're getting in the spirit.

Christmas shopping is difficult, most stores carry products for people who earn five dollars a day.

This morning, I took a taxi at 9 a.m. from San Blas to Tepic, the capital of the state of Nayarit. The road there was beautiful, going first through lush jungle, banana, coffee, and clove plantations, and then to higher altitudes in the volcanic mountains of the regions. Finally at Tepic, we arrived at a machine shop that had every sort of lathe, mill, drill press, etc.

To extract the two bolts whose heads had broken off, they welded nuts onto the bolt shafts, so they could be turned out. For the aluminum stripper piece, they welded on a new base. All this was expertly done. The bill for services: 200 pesos (about 14 dollars).

That being done, I returned by taxi to San Blas (a one hour drive), and upon arriving, set to work reinstalling the windlass and reconnecting the heavy duty wires. This was finally completed around 5:30 p.m.

After this, we went to town to have dinner.

We had dinner in a very fancy colonial era hotel built in 1883, delicious prawns with chipotle cream sauce, for only 140 pesos (about ten dollars).

Tomorrow morning early, we are going to take a guided tour up the estuary, to see the jungle, tropical birds and crocodiles. We've heard from reliable sources it's one of the best guided tours in all of Mexico.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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First day in San Blas
Bruce
12/14/2008, San Blas

After a good night's sleep, we got up at 6:30 this morning at Matenchen Bay, and raised the anchor by using the primary winches again. From there we sailed to the entrance of the San Blas channel, where Captain Norm, a.k.a. "Jama", agreed to meet us to escort us into the channel. The cruising guides say that San Blas channel is very tricky and not to enter it without such an escort.

Norm stood on the shore with a portable VHF and guided us in. After that we were invited to meet at Norm's place. Norm is a very amiable guy to acts as the de facto cruiser's ambassador in San Blas. He lives in a house in town with his wife, and has been there for over 40 years. While he regaled us with stories about San Blas and Mexico, his wife served us pineapple pastries and drinks in their lush garden.

First order of business, Norm promised to help us get our anchor windlass repaired. He arranged to have a taxi pick me up at 9 the next morning, and take me into Tepic, the capital of Nayarit State. There, he says, we could find a metal shop capable of repairing our windlass.

San Blas is a small, poor fishing village. There's very little tourism, and no modern hotels or condos, primarily because of the jejenes (pronounced "heheh-ness"), or Mexican so see-ums, that come around at sunset. Norm says San Blas is blessed by the jejenes, because this way it gets to remain a real Mexican town.

We did a little walking tour of the town, stopping to buy a Christmas tree and decorations, some groceries, and lunch at a restaurant called Mc Donald's. This one doesn't have golden arches, it's a regular Mexican restaurant, and I think they don't have to worry about the hamburger chain bothering them since the sign says "since - desde - 1952". I don't think the hamburger chain was even around then.

On the way back, we bought a kilo of giant prawns for 140 pesos (10 bucks), and had them for dinner sauteed with garlic butter. Delicious!

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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09/08/2011 | Capt Norm in San Blas
Dear Calou Friends
We are glad to know that you are all well and enjoying the beautiful Pacific.We remember you and the pleasant time we spent together.We look forward to your return to San Blas;the giant shrimp await you also.
With sincerest respect and admiration
Capt Norm and Janet Stay Beautiful
--
Arrival at San Blas
Bruce
12/14/2008, Matenchen Bay

Departing from Isla Isabella, we made the passage to San Blas in the afternoon. We saw the most amazing display of two humpback whales, who were cavorting together just a hundred yards from our boat.

We arrived at San Blas at about 6 PM this evening as the sun was setting.

As we hauled up the anchor at Isla Isabella this afternoon, we found that the anchor windlass was broken. The anchor chain winds around a drum, and there's an aluminum stripper that is supposed to peel the chain off the drum. The stripper had cracked and broke off right where it was attached to the windlass with two bolts. We'll have to try to fix the windlass in San Blas.

With the windlass inoperative, we had to raise the anchor by hand. We did this by tying a rope to the anchor chain, and running the rope back to the primary winches. This way we could drag about 20 feet of chain onto the deck, then reattach the rope to the chain at the bow and raise another 20 feet until it was all in. Using our electric winch handle, this was surprisingly easy.

Anyway, we arrived in San Blas at sunset and got on the radio with Captain Norm, a.k.a. "Jama", on VHF channel 22. Jama is a longtime (40 years) resident of San Blas and the self appointed ambassador to cruisers coming into San Blas. He advised us to not try to enter the channel at night, but to anchor out at nearby Matenchen Bay, and to rendezvous with him outside the channel at 8 a.m. the next morning.

With the anchor down, Pascale made a delicious arrachera steak dinner.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Checking out Boobies at Isla Isabella
Bruce
12/13/2008, Isla Isabella

We departed Mazatlan last night at sundown, heading west several miles and then south. Our friend Bob Soleway has joined us as crew. We sailed all night, arriving at Isla Isabella early this morning. It was a pleasant sail, with 5 to 10 knot winds from the west and flat seas.

Isla Isabella is a bird sanctuary, and has been featured in documentary films by National Geographic and Jacques Cousteau as a unique and spectacular bird habitat. The island lived up to reputation with its huge nesting grounds for blue footed boobies and frigate birds. The boobies are unafraid of us and let us approach them.

We left Isla Isabella around noon and are headed to San Blas.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Mazatlan is Paradise
12/09/2008

Maaaazatlan is Paaaaradise!
This is a spoof of the book by a similar name, that is widely circulated here in Mazatlan... the joke being that many cruisers, once they get here, never leave.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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12/09/2008 | Jolea
Is it because it's so lovely, or is it a black hole?
12/09/2008 | Bruce
Both! It is a black hole..... because it is so lovely.

It reminds me of the song, Hotel California: "You can check in, but you can never leave"...

It is also known as "the velvet rut". A rut indeed, but such a nice one.

[raise arms forward like a zombie and repeat after me:]
Maaaaaaaazatlan is Paaaaaaaaaaradise!

Preparations for heading south
12/08/2008, Mazatlan

We're making preparations for heading south on Thursday. If all goes well we'll be ready to go Thursday afternoon. One contingency is the new dodger that we've ordered. It's supposed to be ready Wednesday. If it's late that could delay our departure.

When we do leave, our plan is to sail south to Isla Isabella. We would leave in the late afternoon so as to make landfall in the morning.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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12/09/2008 | Bill
Is that Ecuador? If so, sounds like fun and I look forward to seeing the photos.

Cheers,
Bill
12/09/2008 | Bruce
the next stop is Isla Isabella. Then Puerto Vallarta, and eventually, Zihuatanejo. After that, we'll see.
Kite Aerial Video Photography from Marina El Cid
11/29/2008, Mazatlan



I made a new and improved harness to hold our digital camera to the kite string and tested it at Marina El Cid yesterday. This new design works great! I can't wait to take some aerial video of our boat as we sail down the coast.

If you think kite aerial photography is cool and would like to learn more, check this site out.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Tequila Factory
11/28/2008, Mazatlan

We visited a tequila producing ranch and factory, this was very interesting. Pictured are the blue agave plant cores, which the tequila is made from. These weigh about 200 lb. each (90 kg).

You can see more photos from the tequila factory in our Photo Gallery.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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